Shaping public policy energizes Brigden
2014 Women of Distinction - Leading Lady
Nancy Brigden developed a passion for politics and social issues in the 1970s, when she first realized that banks and financial institutions did not count women’s income as part of a home- or car-loan application.
“You might get pregnant and the income might go away,” she said. “So we took on that at the Colorado General Assembly and we were able to get it changed so institutions had to consider and count female income as well as male income in a married couple. That victory whetted my appetite for more.”
Although Brigden, a former Greeley City Council member and mayor pro tem, no longer participates in politics, she continues to use the skills she learned in business and public service as a volunteer with Loveland Rotary and Friendship Force of Northern Colorado, an organization that works to build good will between people of different cultures.
“My role now is to encourage others,” she said. “I really have no regrets of having done what I did. But I really think that anyone who has an interest in public policy needs to get involved.”
“Nancy is one of those people who knows what she wants and knows how to get there,” said Julie Johnson Haffner, executive director of the McKee Foundation in Loveland and president of Loveland Rotary Club. “She’s incredibly organized and she has great networks and she recognizes community needs and community causes and sets about to meet a need or to address a cause with energy, enthusiasm and smarts.”
Brigden grew up in rural Maryland, the child of doting parents. She learned about marketing, team building and goal setting while working in marketing and sales for AT&T. From there, she served as campaign drive chair for United Way of Weld County.
“Through my involvement with United Way and City Council, I was asked to be on different boards and commissions. In each of those, my background with AT&T was a great help to me, because of the team building and the goal setting,” Brigden said. “You don’t do things by yourself in any part of life. You have to rely on other people. Sometimes it is just the right voice at the table to make things happen.”
As a public official, she helped make the Poudre River Trail between Greeley and Windsor a reality by bringing together Weld County, the city of Greeley and the town of Windsor to make it happen. As part of Rotary, she helped build the Poudre Learning Center on the Poudre River Trail.
“We pulled together all the Rotary clubs in Weld County,” she said. “Instead of doing a smaller project for the 100 years of Rotary, we took on the Poudre Learning Center, an old two-room schoolhouse that had been dismantled and put in storage, to try and move it to a different location.”
Rotary raised nearly $3 million for the facility, which teaches visitors about the history, ecology and biology of the river and how important water is to the area.
“When something that you care about and you put your all into is able to go forward, it really gives you such a sense of satisfaction, and it isn’t that you’ve done it but that you were in the right place with the right people to make things happen,” Brigden said, “and that’s very addictive. It is very satisfying.”
She added that she often reads that what people are looking for in life are connections and the ability to make things happen.
“I think that’s been the real blessing for me in my life,” Brigden said. “I’ve always had great mentors, coworkers, employees, often good bosses, too, who really helped to coach me along. That to me is why you keep doing things.”